‘The highest quality athlete I have ever ridden’: top mare retired owing to injury

  • US Olympic showjumper McLain Ward has paid tribute to the “highest quality” horse he has ever ridden, as top mare Clinta is retired from sport.

    The Oldenburg mare by Clinton enjoyed success at grand prix level with German rider Phillip Ruping, before McLain took on the ride in early 2018. The pair quickly became a formidable partnership; that year they won the New York CSI5* grand prix in April, the Prize of North Rhine-Westfalia at the Aachen Nations Cup in July, and the Rolex Grand Prix de Dinard in August. In September 2018 they were part of the USA gold medal-winning team at the World Equestrian Games in Tryon, where they were also fourth individually.

    Yesterday (2 December) McLain announced with “disappointment” that the decision had been made with Clinta’s owners, Deborah and Brian Sweeney of Sagamore Farms and Susan Heller, to retire the 14-year-old mare from sport following a year of “great efforts” to bring her back from an injury.

    “It’s a decision not filled with sadness, just disappointment as she is healthy and sound but we feel is unable to physically take on the stresses of the highest level of competitions,” said McLain.

    “Clinta is without question the highest quality athlete I have ever ridden and has a heart and competitive spirit to match. Her owners and I are looking forward with great anticipation to breeding her in the coming spring. With much of the breeding world following the current trend of new technology to produce higher numbers of foals we have jointly made a decision to take an old-school approach and breed Clinta naturally and have her carry and raise her offspring.”

    McLain added the team hopes Clinta’s competitive spirit and “giant heart” will come through in her foals, and the mare who has given them “so much” will enjoy a happy and healthy retirement.

    “I would like to say thank you to the people who have made my journey with Clinta possible, the Sweeney family, Sagamore farm, Susan Heller, Fiona Dowley, Paul Schockemohle, Joseph Klaphake, Francois Mathy, Lee & Erica Mckeever, Virginie Casterman, Tim Ober, Mikey Boylan and all of the other countless people along the way who have touched our story together, in some way,” he said.

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